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AHQ INSIDER Lake Wateree (SC) Spring 2021 Fishing Report – Updated January 13

  • by Jay

January 13

Lake Wateree is down to 94.1% of full pool and water temperatures are in the upper 40s and lower 50s. The lake is muddy. 

Anyone looking for an excuse not to go fishing on Lake Wateree right now has a pretty good one – the lake is muddy, conditions are rainy, and it’s cold. Apparently a lot of people are using that excuse, and tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that there is little fishing activity right now.

Still, with cold, muddy water being pulled hard through lake not much has changed with the crappie, and they are still trying to escape the worst current and dirty water by moving to pockets on the lower end. The best way to catch them is tight-lining minnows and jigs in 16-24 feet on the bottom. Black and other dark colors, perhaps with a flash of chartreuse, are the best bets. 

If and when the flow settles down then try the same pattern around the state park at the same depths as fish make their way back up. 

Even though conditions are really tough for bassfishing right now, tournament angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden does reports that there have been a few fish caught on slow moving baits fished close to the bottom. The best bet is to fish steep, shallow rocky areas that are close to deep water, and the best reports recently have come on a spinnerbait and a jig. 

Check out the new Lake Wateree Catch ’Em Kits with lures hand-picked for each season by Dearal.

In catfish news, Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that the best bet is still to anchor gizzard shad on deep ledges earlier in the day.  You can fish this way at the mouths of creek or on drops in the main river channel. 

Then, when the afternoon sun warms the water look for active fish in only a few feet of water.  When picking a shallow spot to anchor lines look for areas with bird activity. 

January 7

Lake Wateree is back up to 96.2% of full pool and water temperatures are down to the lower 50s. While the lower end is decent the upper end is muddy. 

A couple of weeks ago Wateree was so low that it was hard to get a boat in, but now tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that high and muddy conditions up the lake are changing things. There may still be some crappie on the upper end of Lake Wateree, but more fish seem to be escaping the mud and current by coming down the lake. Will is fishing pockets on the lower end where the water is cleaner, and he is tight-lining minnows and jigs in 16-24 feet on the bottom. 

The majority of the bass tournament activity is in a lull on Lake Wateree, and the upper end is muddy, but tournament angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that water conditions around Clearwater Cove are decent. Fishing rock is the key, and he suggests fishing crankbaits, jigs, Carolina rigs and shakey heads. While there may be greater numbers of fish deeper, the most catchable fish are also likely to be relatively shallow. 

Check out the new Lake Wateree Catch ’Em Kits with lures hand-picked for each season by Dearal.

In catfish news, Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that the best bet is to anchor gizzard shad on deep ledges earlier in the day. However, when the afternoon sun warms the water then active fish can be caught surprisingly shallow in only a few feet of water.  When picking a shallow spot to anchor lines look for areas with bird activity. 

Jeff Taylor with another big Catawba chain blue cat!
Jeff Taylor with another big Catawba chain blue cat!

December 20

Lake Wateree is down to 94.4% of full pool and water temperatures are in the lower 50s.  

With water levels extremely low there has been limiting fishing activity on Lake Wateree, and tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that Dutchman’s is one of the better (few) places to put in right now. But if you can get out there after crappie then the fish are from the state park up along the river channel, and they are mostly suspended 18-24 feet down over 24-26 feet of water. Tight-lining ugly green, yellow, pink and chartreuse jigs tipped with minnows has been the best pattern. 

  Will Hinson with two more good ones...
Will Hinson with two more good ones...

There has also been limited bass fishing activity on Lake Wateree, but tournament angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that there is a decent bite fishing rocky main lake points and steep banks. Crankbaits, jigs, Carolina rigs and shakey heads are all working. With the lake so low most anglers will find some of their spots out of water. 

In catfish news, Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that there is still good fishing for blue catfish and channel cats on the drift from the state park to Clearwater Cove. Some large blues are also being taken between the islands just south of Colonel Creek in 25 to 44 feet of water.  Gizzard shad is the bait of choice if you can get it.

Also, look for striped bass action in the same areas as the blue cats.  Down-lining live shad or bass minnows 15 to 18 feet down should bring them to the boat.  When there is surface activity then you can cast bucktails at the fish.

November 24

Lake Wateree is at 99.2% of full pool and water temperatures are in the lower 60s.  From dam to dam the lake is dirty/ muddy. 

It seems a while ago that we were reporting that dropping water levels were making it hard to get a boat in on Lake Wateree, but last week tournament bass angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that the CATT tournament had to be cancelled because of extremely high water.  While the levels have come down the lake is still high and muddy, and as a result most of the catchable fish are probably in less than 5 – and certainly less than 10 – feet of water. Even though water levels are now high when they got so low most of the fish pulled out of the back of creeks, and so Dearal suggests fishing the front section of creeks or the main lake. They could be in the back of some short pockets off the main lake, however.

In the muddy conditions big spinnerbaits, bulky jigs, Chatterbaits, and Rattle Traps are all good options. While fish are generally related to bait schools at this time of year, in the dirty water they could also be tight to rock or around grass. Right now those are probably better cover than wood and docks. 

Water conditions are just starting to settle out, but tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that ripping current, mud and water over the dam put the crappie on the move last week. They started their seasonal migration up the river a little early this year, and now most of the fish are from the state park to the upper dam.

The best pattern has been tight-lining in 18-20 feet on the river channel tight to the bottom, and they should stay here for a little while.  Orange or chartreuse jigs tipped with minnows have been working the best.

In catfish news, Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that there is good fishing for blue catfish and channel cats on the drift from the state park to Clearwater Cove. Some large blues are also being taken between the islands just south of Colonel Creek in 25 to 44 feet of water. Gizzard shad is the bait of choice if you can get it. 

Also, look for striped bass action in the same areas as the blue cats. Down-lining live shad or bass minnows 15 to 18 feet down should bring them to the boat. Soft plastics and buck tails cast to surface schools should also begin to work soon.

Jeff Taylor with a big Wateree catfish
Jeff Taylor with a big Wateree catfish

November 12

Lake Wateree is way down to 94.8% of full pool and water temperatures are around 66 degrees. Before the rain clarity was normal.

Dropping water levels have made it harder to get a boat in on Lake Wateree, but tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that the crappie fishing is good if you can get on the water. The fish are scattered from one end of the lake to the other, but they have moved shallower onto main lake brush in 8-15 feet of water. There are also some fish chasing shad on the main lake, also in the 8-15 foot range, and long-line trolling has been the best way to target them.

Fish Stalker jigs in Mountain Dew, Blue Dew and glimmer blue have been working the best. 

The bass fishing has gotten pretty tough on Lake Wateree, and tournament angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that low water levels have not pulled fish out of the creeks where they are chasing shad but they have made it harder to fish some of the better cover. In the last CATT tournament there were multiple teams that did not catch a fish, and 14 pounds was good enough for the win. Anglers are hoping for better conditions for the championship this weekend.

Square-billed crankbait should still work in areas with bait, but Dearal has found the most bites with a frog fished around grass even though the water is low. 

It remains a pretty good time to catch catfish on Wateree, and Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that the best bet right now is to drift several particular areas in the down-lake areas where most of the bait can be found. One is the flat adjacent to June Creek that is about 21 feet deep, and you can also work the humps in 32-34 feet that are beside Beaver Creek. Another good section is the area below Colonel Creek with three islands that features a lot of bottom changes in 28-40 feet. This area is especially strong if you have a southeast wind. 

Gizzard shad is the best bait.

October 23

Lake Wateree is at 96.8% of full pool and water temperatures are in the lower 70s. The lake has gotten a little dirtier and the upper end is heavily stained. 

Without significant changes in conditions on Lake Wateree the crappie remain in a similar pattern, and tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that they are chiefly on the main lake suspended just over brush in 12-22 feet of water. They can be found from one end of the lake to the other. One-rod jigging with Fish Stalker jigs in glimmer blue (monkey milk), Mountain Dew and yellow with black flakes is working the best. 

Fish are eating shad, but even though shad can be found everywhere the crappie usually stay out of the creeks in the fall. 

Will Hinson with a very happy camper!
Will Hinson with a very happy camper!

The shallow bass bite remains pretty good on Lake Wateree, and tournament angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that fish are mostly in the creeks where they are chasing shad. The schooling action has been good at times, and when they are not schooling you can catch fish on square-billed crankbaits fished around the banks. The key is to make sure you are fishing in areas where there are schools of bait.

Even though water levels are relatively low, there are also still some fish that are in the grass. A frog is working well, and when the sun comes out you can flip a craw to them.  Swim jigs will also work. 

It’s a good but not great time to catch catfish on Wateree, and Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that the best bet right now is to drift several particular areas in the down-lake areas where most of the bait can be found. One is the flat adjacent to June Creek that is about 21 feet deep, and you can also work the humps in 32-34 feet that are beside Beaver Creek. Another good section is the area below Colonel Creek with three islands that features a lot of bottom changes in 28-40 feet. This area is especially strong if you have a southeast wind. 

Gizzard shad is the best bait. 

October 9

Lake Wateree is at 96.7% of full pool and water temperatures are around 72 degrees. The upper lake is dingy while down towards the dam it just has a little color.

The shallow bass bite has gotten pretty good on Lake Wateree, and tournament angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that fish have moved into the creeks where they are chasing shad. The schooling action has been good at times, and when they are not schooling you can catch fish on square-billed crankbaits fished around the grass.  The key is to make sure you are fishing in areas where there are schools of bait.

Even though water levels are down, there are also still some fish that are in the grass. A frog is working well, and when the sun comes out you can flip a craw to them.  The word has gotten out about swim jigs so bass are used to see them now, but they will also work. 

As water temperatures drop the crappie are on the move, and tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that they are starting to make their way towards shallower structure.  The fish are still on the main lake, but they are suspended just over brush in 12-22 feet of water. They can be found from one end of the lake to the other. One-rod jigging with Fish Stalker jigs in glimmer blue (monkey milk), Mountain Dew and yellow with black flakes is working the best. 

Fish are eating shad, but even though shad can be found everywhere the crappie usually stay out of the creeks in the fall. 

Another good day on Wateree this week with Will Hinson
Another good day on Wateree this week with Will Hinson

The catfish bite remains pretty good on Wateree, and Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that in the morning you can do well anchoring around mussel beds in 6-15 feet of water when there is not too much wind or wave activity. The better pattern is often drifting, however, and right now Rodger says the best drift is from June Creek to the islands below Colonel Creek. If you want to catch a big fish then the best bet is to anchor on a ledge and wait them out. 

Cut shad has been working the best.

September 24

Lake Wateree is back up to 96.6% of full pool while temperatures have dropped to the upper 70s or low 80s. The upper end is already muddy and the water is coming down. 

They dropped the lake in anticipation of extremely large amounts of rain, and while there was not as much water as feared tournament angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that up-and-down water levels did affect the bass.  Dropping water kept them from getting in the very backs of the creeks, and the front to middle section of the creeks still continue to produce the best. There has been some schooling activity out in the middle of the creeks, and at other times square-billed crankbaits and topwater lures have been working closer to the banks. 

Soft plastics have also been catching some fish around docks, grass, stick-ups and shade. 

Overall it’s not yet an easy fall bite but hopefully that is coming. 

There’s not much change with the crappie this week, and tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that pretty much every brush pile along the main channel or at the mouth of creeks still has fish – but the crappie have still not really moved into the creeks yet. 

The bigger fish are along the river in brush that is in 18-25 feet of water, while the fish that have moved into shallower brush in 10-18 feet at the mouths of the creeks are generally smaller. Both groups of fish are holding about a foot over the brush.  

One pole jigging with Fish Stalker jigs in Mountain Dew and Blue Dew has been working the best.

Will Hinson with a couple of nice Wateree crappie caught last week
Will Hinson with a couple of nice Wateree crappie caught last week

The catfish bite remains pretty good on Wateree, and Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that in the morning you can do well anchoring around mussel beds in 6-15 feet of water when there is not too much wind or wave activity. The better pattern is often drifting, however, and right now Rodger says the best drift is from June Creek to the islands below Colonel Creek. If you want to catch a big fish then the best bet is to anchor on a ledge and wait them out. 

Cut shad has been working the best.

September 16

Lake Wateree is down to 95.3% of full pool and morning surface water temperatures are around 82-83 degrees. It’s dingy up the lake but from June Creek to the dam is clear for Wateree. 

Bass fishing continues to improve on Lake Wateree as temperatures drop, and  tournament angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that fish are just starting to move into the creeks following the shad. A lot of the time these fish will come up to the surface in the middle of the creeks, but if they are not on top then fishing the bank with square-billed crankbaits or topwater lures is a good bet. There are probably still some fish out on the main lake but Dearal has not been targeting them. 

Fishers Rodgers with a good one
Fishers Rodgers with a good one

It’s gotten a lot easier to find crappie in the last couple of weeks, and tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that pretty much every brush pile along the main channel or at the mouth of creeks has fish. The crappie have not really moved into the creeks yet. 

The bigger fish are along the river in brush that is in 18-25 feet of water, while the fish that have moved into shallower brush in 10-18 feet at the mouths of the creeks are generally smaller. Both groups of fish are holding about a foot over the brush.  

One pole jigging with Fish Stalker jigs in Mountain Dew and Blue Dew has been working the best and catching 60-70 fish in a few hours is not unusual.

The catfish bite remains pretty good on Wateree, and Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that in the morning you can do well anchoring around mussel beds in 6-15 feet of water when there is not too much wind or wave activity. When the wind gets up the best option is to drift for scattered fish in 15-25 feet from the state park to Colonel Creek. Another good drift is from Rochelle to June Creek in about 18-21 feet of water. If you want to catch big fish then the best bet is to anchor on a ledge and wait them out. 

Cut shad has been working the best.

 

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